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Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer charged over alleged fraud

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer speaks at a news conference to announce plans for the building of his cruise ship Titanic II under the Blue Star Line in New York, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

(Reuters) - Australian mining magnate and former politician Clive Palmer was charged with breach of directors’ duties and fraud for conduct dating back to 2013, the country’s corporate regulator said on Friday.

Palmer, a former member of parliament who ran for re-election unsuccessfully in 2019, allegedly used his position as a director of his mining company, Mineralogy, to gain benefits for two companies, according to the statement by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Palmer could not be reached by phone, and his United Australia Party, formerly known as the United Palmer Party, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The ASIC alleged that in August and September 2013, Palmer secured benefit for his party and others by authorising money transfers totalling A$12.2 million ($8.52 million) “contrary to the purpose for which the funds were being held.”

Palmer faces a potential fine of A$340,000, or a five- to twelve-year prison term, or both, the regulator said.

In February, the ASIC laid out four charges against the Queensland businessman and launched a probe into Mineralogy, according to media reports.

($1 = 1.4316 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Anushka Trivedi and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger